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Punjabi Tadka: Minerva script memorable I-League triumph

Press Trust of India  |  Panchukula 

today triumphed against all odds less than a year after a miracle by another underdogs FC, concluding an season peppered with twists and turns never seen or felt before. The 2017-18 league was down to the most dramatic final day in the competition's history with as many as four teams, including old guards Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, gunning for the title. Debutants Neroca FC, surprisingly, were the other contenders. For a club that is only in its second season in top-flight, the title triumph would easily qualify as some achievement. In the process, they created history by becoming the first team from to win the Hero William Asiedu Opoku's goal was enough to seal the title for Minerva Punjab, who beat Brothers by a solitary goal. This is a landmark moment in Indian football where two relegation threatened teams have won back to back titles. Last year it was Aizawl, this year it is from Chandigarh. Brothers, on the other hand, got relegated as this defeat demotes them to second division. Minerva Punjab's attacking trio of Chencho Gyeltshen, William and combined well to put Churchills defence in jeopardy. Chencho almost scored the opener in 8th minute when a low Khosla cross wasnt dealt with properly by Osagie Monday, giving the Bhutanese ace a chance, but he couldnt make full use of it. Minutes later had an opportunity to score from left but his shot went straight into the keeper's hands. The moment finally came in the 16th minute when William converted from point blank range after a rebound from Khosla's shot, which fell right into his feet. William had another great chance in the time of first half but he couldn't control his effort and lost possession. The first half ended with the home side leading 1-0. The second half started with a flurry of attacks from Brothers who tried their best to come back but got unlucky on many occasions. In the 49th minute, Sangwans pin point corner kick met Chencho header but his effort went just wide of target. Brothers almost scored in the 51st minute when Britto got a chance from just six yards out but his weak effort hit the keeper.

Ceesay took a long shot in the 54th minute but Kiran was there to save comfortably. Monday tried his luck in the 59th minute but his wayward short was nowhere near the target. The big chance for came in the 61st minute when Ceesay created space inside box to set himself for a shot but ball just went over the crossbar. Minerva should have doubled their lead in the 64th minute when Kassim Aidara played one two with Chencho but Chenchos following cross towards Sangwan, who was unmarked, went out for a goal kick. In the 65th minute, Britto missed the opportunity of the match so far when he went one on one with the keeper Kiran but Minerva shot stopper came out quickly to save his side. In another show of combination play Chencho was brilliantly set up by William in the 73rd minute in the box but he decided to cut inside and in doing so lost possession. Minerva got a chance in the 80th minute when he took a shot after a deflected corner kick but his shot was nowhere near target. Gangandeep Bali got a chance to get his name on the score-sheet but his weak effort didnt trouble the keeper.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 18:25 IST